- 20 April 2021
- 7 min read
What Qualifications Do You Need To Be a Healthcare Assistant in the UK?Subscribe To Advice
Once you become a Healthcare Assistant you can easily find jobs, you’ll be presented with a variety of career opportunities and enjoy a fulfilling, human job. This article explains how you can qualify.
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For the majority of Healthcare Assistants (HCAs) in the UK, their career is extremely rewarding.
Some even see it as a stepping stone to more attractive roles in the health sector.
HCAs are also an essential part of the medical team as they provide valuable care to patients while at the same time assisting doctors and Nurses with their tasks.
If you are an HCA, you should have no trouble finding a job in the UK’s medical sector as there are a variety of options available, such as:
● Hospitals and clinics
● Mental health facilities
● Learning disability and other specialised clinics
● Prisons and other detention facilities
All countries have their own requirements, but there are specific Healthcare Assistant qualifications in the UK.
This article will focus on how to become an HCA in the UK and outline all the relevant information you need to know.
What Is A Healthcare Assistant And What Do They Do?
Although ‘Healthcare Assistant’ is the usual label attached to this role, you may also be known as:
● Nursing Auxiliary
● Carer or Domiciliary Carer
● Support Worker
Under the direction of a healthcare professional, such as a Nurse, Senior Carer or home supervisor, you will help provide high-quality care to your clients.
In a hospital setting, some of your typical daily duties will include:
● Helping patients generally
● Serving food and feeding patients
● Washing and dressing patients
● Making beds and keeping patients comfortable
● Monitoring patients’ health status by assessing their weight, temperature, pulse and respiration levels If you work in a surgery or health centre, your duties will include:
● Conducting health checks
● Sterilising equipment and machines
● Promoting health consciousness
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How Can You Qualify As An HCA In The UK?
In the UK, HCAs are almost guaranteed employment.
In fact, due to the country’s rising elderly population and the decreasing numbers of qualified staff, demand for HCAs will only get stronger in the foreseeable future.
Healthcare Assistant qualifications in the UK are very specific and you need to meet certain criteria before you can obtain employment.
1. What are the entry requirements?
The NHS has not imposed specific prerequisites for Healthcare Assistants but you must at least possess:
● Good literacy and numeracy skills
● Satisfactory General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE or equivalent) grades in English and Maths
● Business and Technology Education Council (BTEC) certification or a National Vocational Qualification (NVQ)
2. What training will you need?
Your HCA training must include basic nursing skills and it should enable you to acquire a Care Certificate, the UK credential that was launched in 2015.
You will need to satisfy the 15 criteria set out in the Care Certificate:
● Understanding the HCA role
● Personal development
● Duty of care
● Understanding the importance of equality and diversity
● Conducting person-centred care
● Communicating with your patients
● Respecting your patients’ dignity and privacy
● Providing suitable fluids and nutrition
● Awareness of mental health, including learning disabilities and dementia
● How to safeguard adult patients
● How to keep the children under your care safe
● Basic life support skills
● Health and safety knowledge
● How to handle critical patient information
● Preventing and controlling potential infections
In addition, the Care Certificate is work-based and intended to train new HCA workers to acquire the necessary skills.
After completing the Care Certificate, your employer may even provide you with new opportunities for training to help you advance your career.
Apprenticeships For HCAs
Through an apprenticeship, you can continue your studies and qualify for the:
● NCFE CACHE Level Certificate in Healthcare Support Services
● NCFE CACHE Level 3 Diploma in Healthcare Support
Both the National Certificate of Further Education (NCFE) and the Council for Awards in Care, Health and Education (CACHE) provide educational qualifications for people working in the healthcare sector.
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Valuable Skills You Will Need As An HCA
While there are no strict requirements for HCAs, you will certainly need specific skills and personal qualities to thrive in this profession. For example:
● Kindness and a caring nature
● Cheerfulness and friendliness
● Willingness to be hands-on with patients
● Ability to provide personal care, such as making sure patients are clean
● Be a team player, but with an ability to work independently
● Communication – verbal and written
Career Advancement Available To HCAs
The experience and additional training you receive can support your career advancement if you would like to become a senior Healthcare Assistant.
This will also enable you to train and apply to be an assistant practitioner or a Nursing Associate.
If you do get a promotion, you will be assured of a better salary and more benefits whether you are working for the NHS or within a private medical facility.
With the necessary qualifications and academic credentials, you may even choose to switch careers or pursue a higher degree healthcare profession, such as:
● Occupational therapy
Ultimately, the education, certification and training you need will depend on your career goals.
How Much Do Healthcare Assistants Get Paid In The UK
As for pay, an HCA in the UK can expect to receive a salary that ranges from £18,000 to £23,000 per annum.
Although the NHS may provide more benefits than the private sector, the latter will generally offer higher wages.
Private employers offer varying compensation packages, but the salary is often equivalent to or above the UK minimum wage.
In the NHS, Healthcare Assistants start in Band 2.
HCAs can rise to Band 3 and even Band 4.
We have more information about Healthcare Assistant pay here and here.
And if you need to see the Agenda for Change pay scale and bands, it's all set out in our Salary & NHS Pay Scale page.
Healthcare Assistants are in great demand in the UK.
Whether you want to work for the NHS or the private sector, both employers will offer an attractive compensation package.
However, before you start thinking about your salary, you will need to acquire the necessary education, experience and skills to obtain your dream role.
Even if you begin as an HCA, there will still be opportunities for career advancement.
You can even change careers to become a Nurse or Physiotherapist if you have the necessary qualifications.